Swing Set

Jul 13, 201308:57 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Three Productive Days In Stella Maris

We had lunch at the Driftwood Cafe on Thursday because all of our food was in coolers due to Rosie defrosting the refrigerator. I had my sought-after cheeseburger, made by hand with fresh ground beef. A side of fries and cole slaw rounded off the meal, and I must say it was very good. Rosie had a Ceasar salad with chicken. She said if was "real good."

On Thursday afternoon, Joe brought Gerd to the boat to look at what I wanted to have welded. I had made a template for the stainless, and Joe found suitable material and had cut it. Gerd is German, like the owners, and used to be the marina manager here. He is a man of few words. Few, as in none. Nevertheless, it appeared that our welding was going to take place on Friday, barring rain.

We visited Ian and the Driftwood Cafe on Thursday night. We were just going to have a couple of beers and go back to the boat for dinner. The kitchen staff had made a mistake on an order, making a huge beef burrito instead of beef nachos, so Ian remembered how much we liked the burrito from Wednesday night and offered it to us on the house. How can you pass up an offer like that? Later, the smoke detector went off and I hollered "If that's a hamburger you're burning, I'll eat it!" No such luck.

We got back to the boat before dark and were trying to decide whether to have dinner, or pop in a movie and eat a big bowl of popcorn instead. Rosie was taking in the view from the dinette and said, "Oooh, look how pretty the moon looks!"

"Yes, all twenty four of them," I said. "That's one of the globe lights that line the marina basin you're looking at."

We both had a real good laugh at that, but we'll seen how Rosie's sense of humor holds up when she learns that I put this in the blog.

Chantal might have been history, but storms were still due to pass through, and they did. It rained most of the night, and the wind was blowing swells into the marina entrance. We bounced around some, but we were tied to the dock pretty securely, so we weren't worried.

I was up by 7 a.m. because I wanted to be ready to drop the dinghy in case the welding was going to take place early. Joe came by just after 7, making sure his last cut on the new bracket was correct. He said if the rain held off, we would get the welding done that day, and he left the bracket with me.

While I was waiting, I took some plastic board material and began to cut pieces for some extra bracing for the davit. I had an idea to sandwich the davit at the point of the most stress, exactly at the curve of the davit, and I had mentioned that to Joe. He generally liked the idea, but said it would work better if I filled in the space between the two tubes that make up the davit, and then sandwich them in, providing stiffness to the area in hopes to avoid the flexing that was causing the welds to fail.

It took me all morning to cut the pieces with my hand jigsaw, and then a few more hours of sanding the pieces incrementally, measuring, sanding some more, and then obtaining a tight fit between the davit tubes. Meanwhile, Rosie took our laundry across the road and Holly just laid in the salon, staring out the door and pouting because we weren't paying her any attention.

One of the yard workers wheeled the welder over to our boat, so I figured it was showtime. I put all my stuff away, dropped the dinghy, and moved the boat back closer to the bulkhead, as per Joe's instructions. Then, I waited.

No one told me that Gerd was going to do the welding, so I was watching Joe and two other guys drilling holes to modify the haul out railway to fit the catamaran next to us. The whole time, I'm wondering why I was told to move the boat if the welding wasn't going to commence. There was threat of more rain, and the wind was freshening. I didn't have Swing Set tied down good enough for a windstorm, plus the tide was beginning to go out. I began to worry that I had dropped the dinghy and moved the boat for nothing.

I kept quiet though. I got my sander back out and finished fitting the pieces I had made, then I painted them. While I had the paint out, I painted the garbage pail in the cockpit. I kept busy, and I kept an eye on any sign of welding progress.

I left the boat as Rosie was returning from the laundry. She asked me how it was going, and I said that it wasn't. I retrieved my now-dried painted items, and when I came back I found Gerd on the boat. He had the new bracket clamped onto the davit and was beginning to tack it in place. I mustered up all the tact that I could and explained to him that it was imperative that the failed weld on the original brace be welded before we weld the new bracket over it. Without a word, he unclamped the new brace and prepared to fix the broken weld. The only thing he said was that "ziss metal iss too sin." I agreed with him but said that, "It was what it was. Nothing I could do about it now." And so, he welded in silence.

He finished welding the new brace on and then walked away without a word. Big surprise. Imagine, this guy used to be the marina manager. Had I met someone like him when we arrived at the marina on Wednesday, it is unlikely that we would have stayed here, at least not for three days.

 

I sat and wondered if perhaps it was someone else who was going to do the cleanup of the welds when I finally saw Gerd, grinder in hand, in the process of borrowing the extension cord that Joe and the other two guys were using to drill holes over on the railway. (How it takes three guys to use one drill is a mystery to me.) I told Gerd that they could keep the cord, that I had one he could use. Silently, he came to the boat and grind down the weld.

Apparently, he was finished. He then asked me if I had any fine sandpaper. I said that I did, and that I'd be happy to polish up the welding with the sandpaper. He reminded me that I would have to wash down the boat, too. We had covered all the vinyl with wet beach towels to prevent burning from sparks, but there was still lots of metal dust and debris all over the transom. Yes, I think it would be prudent to wash the boat down.

As Gerd was making his exit, I thanked him for taking his time to do this welding for us. All he said was, "I don't sink it's going to verk."

I was prepared for a comment such as this one. I said, "Well, that's a little like telling me my wife is ugly. There is nothing I can do about it now. The damage is done. I have to work with what I have. If this doesn't work, I have the whole dinghy davit torn off and start over. But, I think this is going to work. The davit has held up for three years already."

"Three years?" Gerd gave a small nod of his head, and I think I may have detected a hint of a smile even. I bet I could grow on Gerd eventually, but at our given ages, I don't think there is time.

Rosie and I began to clean up the mess while I began an assault on some ice cold Bud Lights. We both got showers, and by 7 p.m., we were back at the Driftwood for dinner. We typically don't eat out three times in three days, but we wanted to patronize the newly opened restaurant, if only for Ian's sake, but really, the food is good and fairly priced. Rosie had chicken fingers with Mediterranean potatoes, and I had grouper fingers. Both of our meals were delicious.

During dinner, we told Ian that we had plans to leave in the morning. Our charge for the repair was to be $98, an hour for Gerd and an hour for Joe. I never had a yard bill for under $100 dollars before, and I told Ian to make it an even hundred. No sense breaking the mold now. After what ultimately wound up to be a very productive day and evening, we returned to Swing Set before 9 p.m. and wasted no time in falling asleep.

This is where I wanted to post pictures of the finished product, but the WiFi signal is weak this morning and I can't load up pictures. I got up very early this morning and had a good breakfast and then set to work installing the extra bracing I had made. The stiffening pieces between the davit tubes tapped in just perfectly with my hammer. Just right. Suffice it to say, it looks good and I really do think the repair will hold up. If I see Gerd today, I'll offer to buy him dinner if we return next year and his prediction about the repair not working comes true.

Ian came by the boat. He was checking meter readings and announced that the meter we are on doesn't work, so it appeared that we had used no electricity. I told him that running one air conditioner, which we had been doing, would amount to roughly 6 kilowatt hours per day, or at their rate, $3.60, but we also had used electric to do sanding and drilling. I suggested that he charge us $20 for the three days. He countered with $15. Ian drives a hard bargain, and I know when I'm beat. I relented to us being charged $15 instead of $20. Sometimes, you just can't win.

I wrote this post while waiting for high tide, so we can leave. We probably don't need it, but the extra depth will be welcome when we transit the channel out of here. Our plan is to go just a few miles up the coast to Calabash Bay, near Cape Santa Maria, the northern tip of Long Island. Even though we have rain forecasted for every day, the winds should die down, so we are considering jumping over to Conception Island in a day or two. It's 14 miles northeast of here and is a totally uninhabited island. The beaches and water are reported to be the most beautiful in the Bahamas, and the snorkeling is supposed to be phenomenal. Not sure if we'll have Internet service there, or even phone service, so we might be incommunicado for a few days.

We probably spoiled ourselves in the air conditioning for the last three nights, but the temperatures here should be 75 degrees at night, and highs of 83 degrees during the day, so with a pleasant breeze on the hook, we just might be able to survive. One thing we feel is for certain, there will be a return to Stella Maris Marina in our future.

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